General Warriors Harold Matthews 2024

Man that is a very Southside team. Where is the rest of NZ? Or the rest of anyone other than Marist.
Thats the Auckland team selected from the 3 Auckland based teams (Vulcans, Falcons and Stingrays).

They played the NZRL Whaanui team made up of the rest of the country. Something like 9 are from Southern Scorpions, 6 from Wellington and the rest are from the Waikato. From the list below we have signed Kairus Booth, Torino Jackson and Bishop Neal. All from Christchurch and part of the champion Scorpion team.

May have more on the books but those are the names I remember...

So I went along to this yesterday and spent the whole day watching the trials. It was awesome seeing the talent coming through.

The Harold Matthew prospects were told to be there by 9am and started warming up at 9:30am. I didnt know everyone running the teams but one was run by Dayne Norton, another by Jethro Friend, Leroy Fa'avisi and a Rob from the Central area around Tauranga. The first trials started at around 10:30am. The 80 or so players invited were split into 4 teams with 2 games running simultaneously. The field was shortened to 10m to 10m line and the touchline was brought in 10m on both sides. This made for a much better display of skill. Halves x3 (technically thirds but you know what I mean) were eight minutes for the first two games with every team facing off against each other. The two games finished about 11:30. At noon the list for the final 40 that made the last trial was announced meaning half were cut. They were told to come back at 1:15pm for a 1:30pm kickoff.

Inbetween the final Harold Matthews trial the SG Ball invites had started playing their 4 team trials. Could only recognise two of the coaches leading the teams and they were Fletcher Butler and Tusa Lafaele.

The final Harold Matthews trial the teams came out wearing the 2023 NSW Cup style home and away strip (could have NSW or SG Ball jerseys). Halves x3 were 10 minutes.

Plenty from the club were there observing including Cameron George, Webster, Sponge, Grant Pocklington and Jerry Seuseu to name a few. Saw a few former players as well like Monty Betham, Cliff Beverly and Henry Perenara who's son was trialing. Wade Egan was there as well supporting his younger brother who flew in from Australia to trial for the SG Ball team in the halves.

As far as the other players though I didnt catch many names. Just remember faces of the ones that shone. The big talk was over Otago teen Torino Jackson who trialled for the Harold Matthews. Was the overall MVP for the recent nationals as a member of the Southern Scorpion team. According to highly regarded player manager Jordan Friend he could have walked out of that tournament and signed with any NRL he wanted. Would be 16yo and 6ft 2in. Plays 2nd row. Definitely had the goods. Build, speed, step, vision, awareness. His knee was heavily strapped so he wasnt 100% but he is a shoe in for the team if he decides to sign.

Didnt catch the kids name but a player from Palmerston North was also very impressive. Caucasian looking wearing Maroon SOO shorts. Was playing in the halves. Another one that was highly skilled, fit, aware but also very tenacious. Played hard all day on attack and defence where he had an amazing technique that hit high and stopped players dead.

Another was a tall polynesian boy with Bunty type hair who wore headgear on and off. Very determined player who hit the line hard everytime and tackled his guts out. Very poor left to right long pass and average the other way but has the right attitude in spades.

Those 3 I mentioned were the real standouts for me personally but plenty put their hand up. A lot of these 16yo 'kids' were pushing 6ft 3in and sporting full facial hair lol. Frightening really. It was difficult to keep track of so many new faces with no names and changing jerseys.

As for the SG Ball players a lot of them were already signed up from the pathway team last year. There was one African kid who was a beast that trialled. Very stocky built and had huge upper body strength. Reminded me of those African tribes that have organised one on one wrestling fights that employ shamans and potions lol.

As mentioned earlier Egan's brother also trialled and went well enough.

Was a long day that didnt end until just after 3:30pm. Usually they do it over the Saturday and Sunday but it made it very hard for players coming from outside of Auckland. And plenty did. From all over the country and a couple flew in from Australia. Tough day for the players but the right call IMO. Hoping the club release a couple pics and vids of the day. I got a few clips and will try post them up soon...
This is Torino's first year playing rugby league too.. Future is bright!
It was but the u16s age group is thin at Auckland club level anyway as a lot of kids have gone to Aus already. Number 16 Charleston Te Rore, who scored the first try for Auckland, was the only other u15s boy besides Bishop Neal and he and Moala were the best of the Auckland side. Fk knows why they didn't start him. The Aotearoa team was a better team on paper but they were kept quiet in the second half.
Shae Taitua (whaanui #17) is also U15. He's with Broncos